Michael Meade, The Second Adventure of Life: Reinventing Mentors and Elders (Pacific Grove, CA: Oral Tradition, 1999). Order on-line
The Second Adventure of Life: Reinventing Mentors and Elders
by Michael Meade
Hear MP3 excerpts
Michael Meade's new tape The Second Adventure of Life is, itself, an imaginative and stimulating adventure. In it, he weaves together ideas from quantum physics, chaos theory, tribal wisdom traditions and archetypal psychology around the theme of elders and mentoring. He does so in startling and inventive ways. The concepts he weaves together are all ones I've heard before, but the imagination, creativity and humor with which he weaves them together makes them fresh again. This is a tape I will return to again and again, confident that each time I hear it will be a new time and I will walk away with fresh insights as to where I am in my own life.
The tape is a quiet tape. It lacks the high-energy enthusiasm, for example, of the Robert Bly, James Hillman and Michael Meade tape "Men and the Life of Desire," perhaps the tape that best captures the feeling and energy of a large men's event. But this quietness is one of the strengths of the tape. Michael describes mentoring as a process of knowing one's gift -- one's destiny --and having lived in the "dark spaces," and tapping into that in order to bring out, with authenticity, the gifts of the youth being mentored. This is, of course, an "inner journey." So the quietness of the tape is Michael's invitation to enter into your own quiet center, where his words speak directly to your heart and soul.
Once in that space, I found myself getting excited about the ideas he was stimulating -- the ideas that he presented on the tape and the ideas that arose in me in response. TV is passive. It somatizes the mind and soul and deadens the heart so the messages of consumerism can be delivered. This tape is active. It stimulates and nourished the mind, heart and soul. The tape is not "pop culture" that "captures the mind." Rather, it frees the mind. Captures the mind? Evidence: how many people have you heard say "Where's the beef?" How many have you heard say "When death comes for you, it is important that it find you alive."
From the tape jacket:
Far from being a time of resignation and withdrawal, the second half of life can be an opportunity to live a rich inner life while actively contributing to the community. In this live workshop tape, Meade uses poignant anecdotes from his work with at-risk youth and mythic stories of many cultures to bring the listener closer to the philosophical truths that guide a person from adolescence to the end of life.
In this "second adventure" a person takes intentional risks to become an elder, rather than simply an "older," by extending innate gifts through specific practice and turning from the lament for lost youth toward a positive view of death and ancestors.
Themes discussed include:
5 - 1/2 hours, 4 CDs. $29.95.
- Finding one's innate gifts
- The roots of "authentic authority"
- The necessity of a "world view"
- The connection between quantum physics and mythology
- Obstacles to meaningful social change
- The origins and value of mentoring
- The power of the elders.
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There are many voices on this tape. Michael's use of poetry and tribal stories, of course, evokes Robert Bly. His comments on tribal wisdom culture speak not only to ritual and initiation, but also of the community's obligation to bring out the unique gifts of each new person welcomed into the world, a theme that Malidoma Somé develops so well in The Healing Wisdom of Africa. His comments also reflect the tribal wisdom traditions that Guatemalan shaman Martín Prechtel describes so vividly in The Secrets of the Talking Jaguar. He talks extensively about the importance of the mentor's own authenticity, character and destiny -- not surprisingly, the theme of the workshop he did with James Hillman, Character and Destiny. Questions of "authority" raise issues of "authoritarian" and "power," when the issue is authorship -- creation -- and inner authority that passes b.s. detector tests. I was delighted to hear Michael present concepts from a very important and, unfortunately, undervalued book, James Hillman's Kinds of Power: A Guide to Its Intelligent Uses. For example, he stresses the real power of listening, a power that people who equate power with force and dominance don't recognize, much less honor.
(MenWeb's interview with James Hillman gets into issues of authenticity, character, destiny, authority, power, and the daimons who guide our destinies and lead us to the gifts that Michael talks about.)
I thought I would try to present in this review some of the concepts Michael presents, for, indeed, they are powerful and imaginative. I quickly abandoned this attempt, for a couple of reasons. For one thing, there were simply too many. The review would be voluminous. For another, the tape is a piece of poetry. It meets David Whyte's definition of poetry in that it bypasses the intellect and pierces like an arrow directly to the heart. Given the choice of experiencing the tape and analyzing and writing about its contents, I chose to experience it.
If you want to experience it and get a sample of some of the ideas and concepts he plays with, check out our MP3 WebCasts of segments from the tape.
The tape is from an intensive workshop for men and women, on re-inventing elders and mentors. He begins with youth, and his experiences in working with gang youth with Luis Rodruíguez. (Luis is a poet whose memoirs have been featured on NPR. MenWeb's interview with him, Gang Youth, Art and Soul, explores Luis and Michael's' work with gang youth. MenWeb's interview with Michael, Ritual and Community, also talks about this work.) One of the failings of formal mentorship programs, he points out, is that it is the youth who must pick the mentor, not the other way around. When Mentor met with Telemachus, son of Odysseus, he met him at the edge of two worlds, the shore where land meets sea. And it was Athena, Wisdom, or Sophia who spoke through Mentor to Telemachus. Just as, in the tribal wisdom traditions, it is the ancestors or the "invisibles" who speak through the mentor to the youth. The mentor must be in touch with his or her own "invisibles" or daimons (a concept developed more fully by James Hillman in The Soul's Code) and his or her own gifts, to communicate with the daimons of the youth to bring forth the youth's gifts.
This is a tape to get. To enjoy, again and again. You won't be disappointed.
Available only on 4 CDs
|The Second Adventure of Life Michael Meade
||4 CDs - $29.95